Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Game Poster Image
Mediocre role-playing game with violence, blood.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

Positive Messages

The game is about saving the innocent and attacking evil -- which is inherently a positive message -- but the main character relies heavily on violence -- which is not a very positive message.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gamers play as a seasoned warrior named Lightning, who attempts to save human souls while battling creatures big and small. It's a noble task, but the game has a lot of fantasy violence, which doesn't make for positive role modeling. Plus, a character buys alcohol to replenish her health.


Ease of Play

The game isn't difficult to play on the PlayStation 3 version tested for this review. Along with a short tutorial on how to control Lightning, players can pause the game to review the controller layout. Combat does get tricky, however, with timing playing a critical role in attacks and blocks.


The game is centered heavily around violence. From a third-person perspective, gamers use swords, guns, and magical attacks to fight against beasts, robots, and humans. Some of the battle sequences are dramatized in slow motion. There is blood and some potentially disturbing cut scenes with characters impaled, piles of bodies, and pools of blood.


Many of the game's female characters -- including the lead protagonist -- often wear revealing clothing, including low-cut tops that expose cleavage. Plus, the camera angles sometimes zoom in and lock on a female's chest or buttocks. There are no sexual references in the dialogue, however.


The game has some mild profanity, including the words "ass," "damn," "hell," and "bastard." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are a few references to alcohol in the dialogue sequences, and Lightning can purchase beer and tequila as an energy boost. In one mission, Lightning must obtain some expensive alcohol for him to accept a quest.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a role-playing video game that is rated "Teen." This is largely due to frequent violence -- using might and magic -- as well as blood and potentially disturbing death sequences. The game also features women with revealing clothing, a camera that often focuses on it, and mild profanity. There is some alcohol consumption, and there are some alcohol references, in the game.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written bySaad1Khan November 19, 2014
Kid, 10 years old February 21, 2014

Pretty good...

Lightning returns is good and is violent. Lumina is mean, and scantily clad. Snow is mean, and betrayed lightning. Lightning wears the savior uniform, which is... Continue reading

What's it about?

The latest in the Final Fantasy XIII series, which has shipped more than 10 million games worldwide, Square Enix's LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII is a conclusion to the Japanese-made fantasy role-playing game (RPG) franchise. In this single-player game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, gamers play as Lightning, a young heroine on a quest to save a doomed world, and can change up Lightning's look, abilities, and actions throughout multiple, expansive environments. While adventuring through Nova Chrysalia, gamers will master the fast-paced battle system that lets players choose whom to attack, how, and when. This final chapter in the Final Fantasy XIII saga also includes some familiar faces -- including Serah, Hope, Noel, Snow, Sazh, Vanille, Fang, and others -- and somewhat ties up loose story lines from previous games.

Is it any good?

It's not as good as the previous Final Fantasy XIII games, but this final chapter does excel in deep customization options (weapons, skills, and outfits), stunning graphics (especially the cut-scene sequences but also the huge set pieces), and an interesting combat mechanic that blends speed with strategy. Problem is, this concluding adventure in the series feels more repetitive than its predecessors -- encounter enemies, defeat, move on, and start the process again -- plus the story is unnecessarily convoluted (many Japanese RPG fans already expect this, but Lightning Returns is even more difficult to understand). It's not a bad game overall, mind you, but only major fans of the series will get something substantial out of it. Note: The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions are the same.

Talk to your kids about ...

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure and role-playing games

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate